Int’l Observer Groups, UN Appeal for Calm over Postponement of Votes in Nigeria

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Stakeholders at the INEC briefing.

Heads of international election observation missions and the United Nations have noted the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone Nigeria’s 2019 general elections due to logistical and operational challenges and have appealed for calm.

“While we note that this decision has caused disappointment for many, we call on all Nigerians to continue to remain calm and supportive of the electoral process as INEC works to implement its new timeline,” the Mission chiefs said in a joint statement in Abuja on 16th February 2016.

They urged “INEC to use this time (postponement) to finalize all preparations and ensure that the new election dates are strictly adhered to.” The have also called on the Commission to “provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process.”

“As we continue to closely observe preparations across the country, we stand in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in their desire for credible and peaceful elections,” the statement added.

The joint statement followed consultations between the INEC leadership and the Heads of Missions in Nigeria to observe the presidential and National Assembly polls originally fixed for 16th February but which has now been postponed to 23rd February, with the governorship and State Houses of Assembly votes having been moved from 2nd to 9th March.

The Mission chiefs that issued the joint statement were Madam Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf, former President of Liberia (ECOWAS), Mr Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia (African Union), Dr Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania (Commonwealth), and Mr Rupiah Banda, former President of Zambia (EISA – Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa).

Others were Madam Maria Arena (European Union), Mr Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana, and Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, former President of Latvia (National Democratic Institute/International Republican Institute), Ambassador Boubakar Adamou, Director of African Political Affairs (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), and Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head, UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel.

ECOWAS has deployed the largest number of international observers (200) to Nigeria for the 2019 elections, including 15 supported by the European Union under the EU Support to ECOWAS Regional Peace, Security and Stability Mandate (EU-ECOWAS PSS) Project.

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